Hydrometer Basics: How to Use a Hydrometer to Measure Alcohol by Volume

How to Use a Hydrometer to Measure Alcohol by Volume

You can use a hydrometer to measure alcohol by volume (ABV) to ensure your beer is of the right quality. Yes, at Hopsters Brewing Company, we do not recommend you to worry about ABV when you are a beginner in brewing since you may end up contaminating your brew.

To measure the ABV of beer, you need to take the Original Gravity and Final Gravity readings. Subtract the Final Gravity from the Original Gravity and then multiply it by 131.25 to get your estimated percentage of alcohol in your fermentation.

We know that when making beer at home, it’s important to know the ABV (alcohol by volume) of the beer you’re brewing. This is simply the percentage of alcohol present in the liquid you’re brewing.

Hydrometers are one of the most important tools to have when making beer at home. They’re used to measure the specific gravity of liquids. If you’re not familiar with specific gravity, it’s the measurement of the density of a liquid.

The higher the specific gravity of the liquid you’re measuring, the higher the concentration of sugar or other dissolved substances in it. Hydrometers measure specific gravity by dipping the stem into a liquid and then measuring the angle at which the liquid rises back up the stem. Let’s dive in!

How to use a hydrometer to measure alcohol by volume using specific gravity

A hydrometer is used to measure the specific gravity of liquids. You can find a hydrometer in any brewing store. They’re not expensive and they’re pretty easy to use.

Step 1: Get the Original gravity

To measure the specific gravity, you fill your container with the liquid you want to measure, then place the hydrometer into the liquid and read the specific gravity on it. The higher the specific gravity, the more sugar or other dissolved substances are present in your liquid.

The first measurement is taken before fermentation has taken place and is known as Original Gravity (OG).

To get the original gravity: After the sugar water, mash, or wash has cooled to 70F to 80F, fill up about three-quarters of your test jar (the plastic or glass test jar to float the hydrometer).

Write down the reading you get using the hydrometer after you’ve floated it. This is your initial specific gravity (OG). The hydrometer is calibrated at 60F, and a temperature correction is, therefore, necessary to obtain a more accurate reading. See the temperature correction chart.

Step 2: Measure the final specific gravity (FG)

After fermentation has completed and all of the sugar has been converted into alcohol, a second measurement is taken and this measurement is called Final Gravity (FG).

After fermenting the brew solution for 5-7 days, check the specific gravity again, which is now known as the final specific gravity or FG final gravity.

Step 3: Calculate the ABV of your brew

To calculate ABV, you simply take the original gravity (OG) and subtract the final gravity (FG) x 131.25. This will give you an approximation of how much alcohol there is for every 100 milliliters of beer in your batch.

An example:

If the OG (original specific gravity) of 1.080 and the final specific gravity (FG) is 1.041, then the ABV of your brew can be calculated by subtracting FG from the Original gravity and multiplying by 131.25. Thus, 1.080-1.041= 0.0039 x 131.25 = 5.119% alcohol by volume (ABV)

So what do you need to take these readings?

For OG measurements, any container will do but using a measuring cup makes it easier. For FG measurements, any vessel will do but again using a measuring cup makes it easier.

You also need a hydrometer which can be found at any brewing store for cheap or come with some homebrew kits like Mr. Beer Homebrew Kit Starter 6-Gallon – All Malt Brews – Ready in 10 Days or Mr. Beer Homebrew Kit Starter 2-Gallon – All Malt Brews – Ready in 3 Days.

How do you calculate ABV?

To calculate the ABV of your beer, you need to make two measurements. One before fermentation and one after fermentation. The difference between those two measurements is the ABV when multiplied by 131.25. You can calculate the ABV by using this formula: ABV= (OG-FG) x 131.25

How to use a hydrometer

How to use a hydrometer You can use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of your liquid by following these steps:

  • Place the stem of the hydrometer into your liquid, making sure that it’s not touching the bottom of your container.
  • Read the specific gravity from the scale on the stem. The lower your reading is on the scale, the higher your ABV (alcohol by volume).

What does pH have to do with hydrometers? pH is basically a measurement of acidity in liquids. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 and generally, anything below 7 is acidic, while anything above 7 is basic. Most beers are brewed between 5 and 6 on this scale.

If you want to make beer at home and use a hydrometer, it’s important that you know what kind of yeast you should be using. Yeast react differently depending on what type of liquid they’re submerged in and different types of yeast have different fermentation rates based on what type of liquid they’re exposed to, which will alter how much alcohol they produce during fermentation.

With an understanding of what type of yeast you need for this particular brew, you can then determine how much sugar or malt extract you need to add in order for it to ferment properly. Your pH level will also help determine this as well.

Scales for Measuring Alcohol Content

One of the first things to remember when using a hydrometer is that there are two scales for measuring alcohol content. The scale you choose depends on your country.

The most common scale for measuring alcohol content is the Gay-Lussac Scale, which is used in the United States and many other countries around the world. It’s also abbreviated as G-L or G L. The other type of scale is the Plato Scale, which is used in Europe and Asia. It’s also abbreviated as P-L or P L.

What is Alcohol by Volume?

It is the standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol by volume (abbreviated ABV, sometimes labeled as %ABV) is a standard measure of how much alcohol is contained in an alcoholic beverage.

Alcohol by volume indicates the number of milliliters of pure ethanol present in a given volume at 20 degrees Celsius.

The term “ABV” does not indicate anything about the strength or quality of the alcohol being measured; it simply describes what percentage of that liquid is pure ethanol. A beverage with 14% ABV contains 14 grams of pure alcohol in every 100ml, exactly one-tenth of its total weight.

What is Specific Gravity?

The density of beer or wort at standard temperature and pressure (20°C, 760 mm Hg) measured by saccharometer, hydrometer, or refractometer with original gravity (OG) could be 1.050 and Final Gravity (FG) could be 1.010, then the alcohol by volume = 6.2 %.

Specific Gravity is a measurement of the density of a liquid. The higher the specific gravity, the higher the concentration of sugar or other substances in that liquid. Hydrometers measure specific gravity by measuring how high up the liquid rises on a stem after it’s dipped into the liquid.

You can get an idea of how much alcohol is present in beer by reading the specific gravity on a hydrometer.

Alcohol has a lower specific gravity than water (which has a specific gravity of 1), so if you are brewing beer with an original gravity (OG) of 1.050 and final gravity (FG) of 1.010, then you know that 6% alcohol will be present in this batch of beer when it’s done fermenting.

What is a hydrometer?

Hydrometer Basics: How to Use a Hydrometer to Measure Alcohol by Volume

A hydrometer is an instrument that measures the specific gravity of a liquid. A hydrometer looks like a thermometer, but with a weighted bulb on the bottom and a long glass tube. At Hopsters Brewing Company, we have been using and recommend Brewer’s Elite Hydrometer.

To use one, you simply take it out of the box, wipe it down with alcohol to remove any dust or dirt, and fill it with your liquid. The hydrometer will float at a certain height in the liquid.

You read this by looking at the markings on the stem of the hydrometer. These readings can tell you how much sugar and other dissolved substances are in your liquid.

Beer with Higher ABV

What is the ABV of your beer?

The higher the ABV of your beer, the stronger and more potent it will be. Higher alcohol beers typically have a higher amount of malt. The stronger your beer is, the more malt you’ll need to use in order for it to ferment properly.

You may even need an additional step of boiling the wort (the sugary liquid created during brewing) with hops before cooling and fermenting. Higher ABV beers are also typically more expensive because they require so much work to produce.

Some of the beers with the highest ABV are:

  • Brewmeister’s Snake Venom Ale- 67.5%
  • Brewmeister Armageddon-65%
  • Schorschbräu Schorschbock- 43%
  • Baladin Espirit de Noel- 40%
  • Sam Adams Utopias- 29%

It is important to note that some beers today even have a higher ABV as compared to some vodka or whiskey. As you do your home brewing, we recommend brewing Sam Adams’ Utopia Series if you want the highest ABV.

Beer with Lower ABV

Beer with a lower ABV is good for people who don’t like the taste of beer or are new to drinking it. It’s also a good option for those who want to drink alcohol but stay within a certain calorie range.

Some examples of beers with lower ABV include:

  • Schofferhofer Grapefruit- 2.5%
  • Evil Twin Bikini Beer- 2.7%
  • Victory Cage Radler- 3%
  • Ballast Point Mango Even Keel- 3.8%
  • Bell’s Oarsman Ale- 4%
  • Natural Light- 4.2%
  • Pilsner Urquell- 4.4%

How do you raise ABV in beer?

If you want to increase your ABV in beer, there are a few ways you can do this. One way is to use additional sugars in your beer such as corn sugar (dextrose), table sugar, and brown sugar.

You can also take advantage of the natural sugars that are present in fruits and add them to your beer.

Fruits like pumpkin, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, cherries, and apples all have natural sugars that will help increase the ABV of your brew. The more sugar you use in your brews, the higher ABV they will be!

How do you increase the original gravity of beer? By adding fruits

How do I increase the alcohol content of my beer?

If you want to increase the ABV of your beer, you need to add more sugar to the liquid during fermentation. For example, if you want a higher alcohol content for your homebrewed beer, you’ll need to add more malt extract (syrup) during fermentation.

You can make a new brew with an increased ABV by using more malt extract and then fermenting it for a longer period of time. However, this will affect the taste and flavor of your beer so be careful when making adjustments like this.

Does adding more yeast increase alcohol content?

No, adding more yeast to your brew does not mean more alcohol since, in yeast’s case, less is more.

In fact, yeast’s role in beer is to convert sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. It does this by eating up the sugar and creating alcohol in the process.

How do you increase the final gravity of beer?

The easiest way to increase the final gravity of your beer is by adding unfermentables. This will include sugars and proteins. Sugars such as malt extract or corn sugar, or proteins like gelatin or Irish moss are good additions to make your brew taste better and have a higher final gravity.

What is a good starting gravity for beer?

Different brews have different starting gravities—or specific gravities when taken from the hydrometer. The gravity determines how strong the beer will be, as well as its alcohol by volume percentage.

For example, a beer with an original gravity of 1.050 is roughly 5% ABV beer while American Barleywines and Imperial Stouts can surpass 1.100.

A good rule of thumb is to start at a gravity between 1.050-1.060 for 5% ABV beers while American Barleywines and Imperial Stouts can start closer to 1.080 or higher!

How many gravity points does sugar add?

Corn sugar yields 42 gravity points per pound per gallon (ppg) since it is 100 percent fermentable. When making beer at home, it’s important to know the ABV (alcohol by volume) of the beer you’re brewing. This is simply the percentage of alcohol present in the liquid you’re brewing.

Hydrometers are one of the most important tools to have when making beer at home. They’re used to measure the specific gravity of liquids. If you’re not familiar with specific gravity, it’s the measurement of the density of a liquid.

The higher the specific gravity of the liquid you’re measuring, the higher the concentration of sugar or other dissolved substances in it.

Hydrometers measure specific gravity by dipping their stem into a liquid and then measuring angle at which liquid rises back up the stem.

You can get a general idea of the ABV (alcohol by volume) of a beer by reading a specific gravity hydrometer.

What does OG stand for beer?

One of the most important things to know when using a hydrometer is what OG stands for. OG stands for original gravity, which is the specific gravity reading of a liquid before fermentation. The original gravity of your beer will help you calculate the ABV.

What determines OG beer?

The original gravity (OG) is a measure of the fermentable and un-fermentable substances in a beer wort before fermentation. The basic equation to calculate OG is: (Specific Gravity x Volume) / (Extract Potential x Volume of Water).

As an example, if you had a wort that was 1.050 and fermented completely, the OG would be 1.100. This means that the unfermented wort has a higher sugar content than the finished beer.

The extract potential in this equation refers to how much sugar is in the liquid at room temperature, which will be measured with a hydrometer or refractometer. The volume of water refers to the amount of liquid in the brewing vessel before fermentation.

Enjoying beer with a great final gravity

What does FG stand for beer?

What does FG stand for beer? FG stands for final gravity. Final Gravity is the density of the beer, which plays a big role in determining the alcohol content. It’s important to take final gravity readings before bottling or kegging so that you know how much alcohol you’re adding to your brew.

The Bottom Line

To determine the alcohol content of a beer, you will need to use a hydrometer. You can also memorize this simple trick: lower specific gravities are for lower-alcohol beers and higher specific gravities are for higher alcohol beers.

The higher the specific gravity is on the hydrometer, the more sugar or other dissolved substances there are in the liquid. In order to measure how much sugar is in your beer, you need to take a reading from your hydrometer.

For example, if your hydrometer reads 1.060, you know that it’s going to have an alcohol by volume of about 6%. This is because as the specific gravity increases on your hydrometer, so does the amount of alcohol in your brew.

A hydrometer is a simple tool used to measure the specific gravity of liquids. To use a hydrometer, simply fill the test tube with your liquid and place the hydrometer into it.

Once you have it in place, tilt the hydrometer so that the meniscus (the curved surface of the liquid) is just touching the stem of the hydrometer.

You will then be able to read what your specific gravity is and see how many fermentable sugars are present in that liquid. This measurement can give you an idea of how much alcohol by volume you’ll be getting once you bottle your brew!

FAQs

What is the best specific gravity to use for beer?

A typical beer will have a specific gravity of 1.040-1.050, which means it has 4% – 5% alcohol by volume

How do I use a hydrometer to measure ABV in a liquid?

You’ll need to take the hydrometer, put water or beer on the stem and then read the specific gravity from the scale on the stem. This will give you a general idea of how much alcohol is in your brewing liquid

Is there anything else I should know about using hydrometers?

Hydrometers are also used to determine if the wine has been adulterated with sugar, raisins, grapefruit, or other substances that would lower its quality or sweetness level.

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